Monthly Archives: March 2013

Treat 59: Part of this world

My favourite Disney movie of all time is The Little Mermaid and my favourite song from that movie is ‘Part of this World.’ I can relate to Ariel because we both have strict fathers. Though Ariel thinks, ‘Betcha on land they don’t reprimand their daughters’, I’m pretty sure my dad is stricter than hers. I didn’t get married off at 16. Like Ariel I am very close to my dad. On the weekends we usually go out to eat somewhere to give mum a break. If I didn’t take the initiative we’d be eating at the same places each week, namely Hungry Jacks or Odin Tavern (see treat 55). My dad loves to go to restaurants with a view but this usually comes at a cost. Case in point is my dad’s experience at the recently opened Kailis Brothers Café in Trigg where the tiny fish and large serve of mashed potato was not warmly received. Till this day dad complains about that mashed potato. He makes a good point; you are paying over $30 for the fish and not the potato. So I decided to take a risk and take my dad, mum, sister and brother to The Partisan in East Perth overlooking the Swan River. I had a $50 voucher that expired that day so it was now or never. The Partisan won the 2011 best new restaurant in The West’s Good Food Guide so I had high hopes. The service was great and we were quickly greeted and seated. The menu had quite a few different lunch options from your humble croques (French style toasted sandwich) to your fancier fish of the day, larder board, moules marinare and pommes frites (mussels and chips) and pasta of the day. My dad and I both chose the fettucine with garlic, chilli, prawns and crispy pancetta. I love simple flavour combinations with garlic and chilli being my all-time favourite. For this dish my dad thought it could have more chilli. Unfortunately, he didn’t notice the chilli plant behind him till after the meal was over. Without doubt my dad would have grabbed a few chillies to eat with his meal. Otherwise he is usually prepared and would pull out his chillies from his Mary Poppins pocket (see treat 55). The crispy pancetta added the crunch this pasta dish needed. Though it wasn’t my favourite seafood pasta, (Must Wine Bar’s crab angel hair pasta still wins) it did pack a lot of flavour and I would recommend this dish to my fellow seafood pasta lovers. However, it was only pasta of the day so if you have to get lucky on the day you go. My mum and sister were happy with their barramundi, roasted potato and broccoli dish. This was fish of the day so don’t always go to The Partisan expecting it. Both their plates were scraped clean so it looked like they enjoyed it. My brother as always likes to be different and there was no mistaking the variety from the Larder Board. This included a rabbit & rosemary terrine, chorizo sausage, shaved prosciutto, fennel & caraway marinated olives, danish fetta and charred ciabatta. My sister loved the danish fetta but she has a soft spot for cheese. My dad and I hogged the olives. Mum let my brother be. Luckily we ordered mussels and chips to share otherwise he wouldn’t have much to eat. It does explain why he ordered crepes at Toast after. The chips were forgettable and the mussels were quite small. Not the most filling dish. I probably would not order again as I’ve had better mussels at the Belgium Beer Café for a similar price and larger serving. Overall, The Partisan was a special outing for the family with beautiful East Perth views and equally beautiful looking food. No it’s not a place like my family would frequent often but it is a wonderful restaurant for special occasions. My parents had a wonderful day celebrating their 32nd anniversary with their children and the scenic surroundings of East Perth was a nice change from mum being in the kitchen on her anniversary. So here is where I get all mushy in my blog. Despite growing up with a strict dad, I am very blessed to be close to both my parents and spend quality moments where I get to spoil them instead of me being the spoiled one. Congratulations mum and dad on 32 years of wonderful memories.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Fish of the day...barramundi.

Fish of the day…barramundi.

The crispy pancetta makes this dish.

The crispy pancetta makes this dish.

I would have liked a bigger serving.

I would have liked a bigger serving.

Oh brother! Another random choice from brother dearest (not a bad one - I enjoyed the olives).

Oh brother! Another random choice from brother dearest (not a bad one – I enjoyed the olives).

THE DESTINATION
The Partisan on Urbanspoon

Treat 58: Anything you can do…I can do better

In 2011 I embarked on a random trip to Europe thanks to $900 return flights to London. Yes it was with Air Asia but I live to tell the tale. A highlight was the idyllic coast and delicious food of the Greek Islands including Santorini, Mykonos and Ios. Now there is lots of debate over what country invented what food. With my Lebanese background I am honestly biased. I do know the Greeks invented maths but it looks like they also are experts at bankruptcy. I am learning this in the book I’m reading, Michell Lewis’ Boomerang which are about countries in Europe who suffered from or contributed to the GFC. Wow that sounded so boring I almost fell asleep writing it. The book is actually quite interesting and you learn about how Greece ended up in this financial position (or lack of finance in this case). This has nothing to do with food but now it will. There are some Greek delights that I remember fondly from the trip including dolmades (vine leaves), spanakopita (spinach and feta pie) and mousaka (lamb and eggplant layered dish). On this beautiful night, Perth’s Mediterranean climate was a perfect setting for my first dining experience at Estia Cafe in Inglewood. Our table was outside and though slightly neglected in the beginning while we waited to order, it was nice to feel the breeze while sipping on New Zealand sparkling white. I was torn by many options on the entree. It’s probably because I’m used to the meze style of eating, similar to tapas where you have a few small plates to share. We decided not to fill up on entrees and instead share the dips and pita. The three dips were tzatziki (yoghurt and mint), melitzanosalata (eggplant) and taramosalata (caviar). I absolutely love tzatziki and you will find me eating it at least a couple times a week. It’s quite easy to make but I definately amp up the garlic content in my version of this Greek favourite. The eggplant dip was milder than my family’s version of babaganoush (the Lebanese eggplant dip). My mum’s eggplant dip wins this round sorry Estia. A slight criticism from all three of us at the table was the dip and pita ratio. We ran out of pita quite early on with plenty of dip going begging. I think it’s a money making strategy as we reluctantly paid the extra for more pita. For mains I got the prawn saganaki, which came in a small claypot with prawns, roast vegetables and a tomato saltsa, halomui and feta and more pita. I should have just waited for my main because I didn’t eat much of the pita on my plate. The prawns were quite sizeable and I did find this dish flavoursome. The secret is in the herbs. I come from a herb family thanks to my green thumb dad. His garden is packed with parsley, oregano, basil, mint and rosemary. Don’t forget his beloved lemon trees (all 6 of them). I know that’s not a herb but it’s still an essential ingredient in Mediterrean cooking. I will give credit where credit is due to the Greeks for their delicious prawn saganaki. My friend Fran was very happy with her spanakopita as evidenced by the scraped clean plate. I must admit and I didn’t say it on the night, I had food envy from Kirsty’s octopus salad. I just thought it would be grilled octopus on the plate but this had the fresh touches of lettuce, cucumber, tomato and mint to make this a perfect summer salad. The photos below will make you hungry just looking at them. Though the dessert menu was tempting we were too full on pita (maybe we shouldn’t have ordered the extra serve). I would definately go back to Estia. Will I take my mum and dad? Probably not because it’s a bit like anything you can do I can do better, I can make tzatziki better than you. Why do you think I’ve never taken my parents to The Prophet in Victoria Park (see Treat 35). If I closed my eyes and used my imagination with the warm summer breeze and aroma of herbs I could imagine myself back in Santorini. Then I’d open my eyes realise I wasn’t in paradise but instead sitting half a metre away from busy Beaufort Street. An excuse to eat my feelings with delicious Greek offerings from Estia Cafe. Sometimes all you need is pita.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Trio of dips (what do we want more pita and when do we want it...now)

Trio of dips (what do we want more pita and when do we want it…now)

Prawn saganki is a pot full of flavour.

Prawn saganki is a pot full of flavour.

I love spanokopita (even though I always forget how to spell it).

I love spanokopita (even thought I always forget how to spell it).

THE DESTINATION
Estia Cafe Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Quick Treat: Shhhhh it’s a secret

It looks like the only meal I’m eating out and about at the moment is breakfast. Or if it is dinner it is limited only to sashimi. What is going on? I have no idea. Just another phase I’m going through. It’s like the time I went to Jennifer Lopez’s concert and her six-pack inspired me to get fit again. So before I go on a Japanese food bender I’ll give you a couple more breakfast treats. Then after that I promise to spice it up, quite literally as I stumbled upon a Chinese chilli restaurant in Victoria Park that my dad has been wanting to visit. Today I was breakfasting before work with the Myer girls who now all have government jobs in the CBD. We checked out the Secret Garden Cafe on Murray Street in the West end of the city (not to be confused with the Secret Garden Cafe in South Perth which you will meet in an upcoming treat). I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few brekky options under $10. It’s actually a relief to see eggs on toast on the menu for under $10. They also do breakfast specials everyday where you can get a toastie (eggs, mushroom and spinach on sourdough) with a coffee for $10. What a relief! On Wednesdays you can get eggs on toast any way you like with a coffee for $10. Warning these specials are on the second page of the menu so don’t ignore. I chose the toastie and coffee special and was pleasantly surprised by the generous filling in my sandwich. It wasn’t anything difficult and I know I could easily make it at home but it’s the social aspect I love the most. Getting up early to get a good coffee and have a catch up with friends really is a great way to start my day. I know some people go for runs, I go to cafes. This morning we did have an engaging debate on whether the vegemite should be applied on the bread or come separately so you can spread yourself. Lazy me thinks it should come spread so I was disappointed when I went to Toast in East Perth and had to do all the hard work myself. However, when Kirsty’s vegemite toast was served we all grimaced at the thick level of vegemite without any butter to absorb the rich flavour. The waitress didn’t even have to wait for Kirsty to say anything, she apologised and took the plate away. It was replaced with the vegemite in a bowl ready for Kirsty to spread to her liking. Even simple things like vegemite on toast can be ruined. Let’s open this up for debate. Do you think vegemite should be spread or come separately? If you are looking for a breakfast option under $10 with great coffee then give Secret Garden Cafe a go. Just walk through the alley, walk past Tiger Tiger and there you will find the Secret Garden Cafe with their secret breakfast specials where all you need is a blue note.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

$10 for coffee and a sandwich (that's rare in Perth)

$10 for coffee and a sandwich (that’s rare in Perth)

THE DESTINATION
Secret Garden on Urbanspoon

Treat 57: Coffee art

Today I achieved what I thought was impossible….run 5ks. You see I’ve always thought of myself as a short distance runner. A sprinter some would say as I run to trains and 75% off signs. My speciality back in my primary school days was 100 metres. I peaked as an athlete at the age of 12. Besides running cross country (1500 metres) this body did not run multiple kilometres. The exception…throw coloured chalk at me and I will run. So on this Colour Run Sunday after being dowsed in blue, pink, orange and yellow chalk and running 5ks it was time to reward myself with brunch. At my friend Fran’s recommendation, Kinky Lizard Espresso Bar in East Perth was the lucky café to have our rainbow presence. We weren’t the only colour runners dining there so we didn’t feel too out of place. First on order was a coffee to get the energy that I lost running. We were blown away by the cute coffee art. Our flat white and latte order was a cute mamma and baby pair (see below). We were so excited by the coffee art that we bought another round of coffees even though we were already buzzing with adrenalin and caffeine. Now to the food to fuel this athletic body. I was impressed with the all day breakfast offerings…not good for an indecisive person like me. BUT I was starving so for the first time I made a quick decision…the bacon hock rosti caught my eye. I love a rosti. One of my first rosti memories was in the native country of rostis…Switzerland where this particular café charged $5 Australian dollars for tap water. Till this day I am holding a grudge against the country of Switzerland. I also read the book, Wolf of Wall Street and it also made me angry against Swiss banks so there’s a double whammy grudge against this neutral nation. One of the Swiss banks let Jordan Belfort, this millionaire stockbroker swindle millions of dollars. He ended up going to jail for it but that’s not the point. Out of the two, I’m angrier paying for tap water. That should be a crime. Ok rant over. Let’s talk food. My meal was jam packed with truss tomatoes, asparagus, avocado, poached egg and spinach to accompany my delicious bacon hock rosti. If only pictures could talk, it would say ‘I am so delicious. Please order me again’. The potato rosti was full of flavour and all the elements on my plate were brekky favourites. If I could have a plate of all my favourite brekky items this would be it. The portion of tomatoes and avocado were especially generous. There were so many items on the menu that I would order but I have a feeling I’d order the rosti again. I tell you when I like something I stick to it. Everyone at the café was so friendly and welcoming that I can’t wait to go back and support them. When there is good service in Perth, you take notice of it because it’s quite rare to find. So thanks Kinky Lizard for having a cool café name and awesome coffee art. Welcome to my FBL (frequent brunching list).

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Momma and baby bear

Momma and baby bear

It's a masterpiece...poached egg, bacon hock rosti, truss tomato and asparagus.

It’s a masterpiece…poached egg, bacon hock rosti, truss tomato and asparagus.

IMG_1124

THE DESTINATION
Kinky Lizard Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Treat 56: The North Star

My friend Louise is moving South of the River and though I am sad to see her leave us Northies behind, on the bright side it means branching out and trying new places that aren’t in my local radius. I do apologise to my followers that are south of the river because I knowingly neglect you. I also apologise for making jokes about needing road trip CDs to get to Fremantle. I’ll be honest I won’t stop making them (sorry Louise and Neha). So in the next couple weeks you will notice new brunch locations and I’ll mention suburbs where I probably have never eaten before. However, I couldn’t let Louise cross to the dark side without one last supper or brunch in this case at one of her former haunts, Hobart Deli in North Perth. This was actually my first time at Hobart Deli. I find myself continually surprised by these random corner cafes in the suburbs. Recent discoveries include Lincoln’s Cafe in Highgate, Piccolos Cafe in West Leederville and West End Deli in West Perth (see Quick Treat: The Slap). Hobart Deli was packed to the rafters on this Monday public holiday. I was lucky to nab a table so quickly. I’d like to think that was because for the first time in my life I was actually on time for brunch. Hopefully this experience will motivate me to become more punctual but I am naturally a late person and I can’t fight genetics. What I like about the Hobart Deli menu is that it has brunch options that you usually wouldn’t eat let alone make at home. The small space inside and out means you are almost practically sitting on the person next to you. It’s not arms distance apart more like a pinky finger space next to you. The advantage in this is that it is great for food watching (and eavesdropping but that’s neither here nor there). Unless you have already ordered then the advantage becomes a disadvantage because then you have food envy staring a pinky distance away from you. I ordered the full vegetarian, which didn’t sound as fun as the full playground (the title for the meat-eaters option). I’m not vegetarian but I like vegetarian options at brunch. You will notice me choosing the mushrooms and feta or anything with poached eggs really. This was a vegetarian’s dream – zucchini and haloumi fritter, roasted tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and poached egg on rye bread. They should rename it the Full House because it really has all the vegetarian favourites. The standout item for me was the zucchini and haloumi fritter. I loved the texture of the shredded zucchini and the punchy herbs made it memorable. The letdown was the overcooked poached eggs and hard rye bread. The bread choice was my fault. Rye is notoriously hard to cut but for some bizarre reason I like the sour taste that comes with it. The hard poached egg makes me sad because it’s gooeyness would have helped soften the rye bread. I won’t remind you about the last time my heart broke when I got hard poached eggs (see Treat 49: Foam Home ). I won’t give up on this place though. If I take your mind back to food envy, I had that from the lady next to me who in her own words was staring at the ensemble on my plate. In turn, I was staring longingly at her brioche with berries. I can’t wait to go back there just for that. The coffee was decent. When I looked at my coffee connoisseur friend Louise, she did not seem that impressed. She’s only moved in across the river five minutes and she’s criticising the coffee on the northie side. We will see about that. I really mean that….I have a long list of places to try including Ootong & Lincoln, Harvest, Barque, Aubergines….the list goes on. To sort of quote a wise man, Ali G….North side is the best! The crowds at Hobart Deli, Tuck Shop Cafe and Sayers are testament to that. But as a ‘foodie’ who actually eats food (not just take photos of it) I am excited by the prospect of finding the south of the river version of these brunching options. Watch out southies I am coming and I have an awesome road trip CD all ready to go.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Breakfast is the only time I'm vegetarian (except when I eat bacon)

Breakfast is the only time I’m vegetarian (except when I eat bacon)

THE DESTINATION
Hobart Deli on Urbanspoon